My cat is rather fond of food so it was a strange experience trying to get her to eat. Here are a few hints and tips that may help cats to start eating again.
A while back, my cat Ginger went off her food. I thought it was due to a change of weather as this often affects her body clock. We first noticed it due to the fact that she had stopped waking us up at 5am for food. Then it extended to not wanting her tea or her supper. Other than being off her food, she had seemed fine in herself and not ill at all.
Before long she was showing signs of cystitis. She has had this before so I knew the early warning signs. The first thing we tried to do was to encourage her to eat to ensure she had water going in. It is really important that cats don't stop eating as they can get hepatic lipidosis which may be fatal.
Encouraging a Cat to Eat
As you can see from the photo below, the first thing I tried was offering different food. She usually has Sheba but if I put down different food, she liked the novelty of it. She would even eat the same type of food for a couple of meals before going off it.
Different flavours may be tempting. Even though Ginger does not like fish flavours usually, she ate some.
Also, alternative textures such as feeding gravy instead of jelly helped. I bought some gravy food from the local shop and the first pouch was eaten with enthusiasm. Fresh cooked meat may be offered as an alternative.
*** Be careful of introducing dry food or completely changing a cats normal diet as this may have an adverse effect.
Warming the Food
It is recommended that cat food is 'served at room temperature'. This means it is easier for the pet to eat and digest. If a pet is ill, their sense of smell may be off. By warming the food, it makes it more appetising for them. As I don't eat meat I can't say that it makes it yummier but the smell is certainly stronger.
I add warm water to the food to make it smell stronger and hoping that the meaty water will tempt her to eat. Ginger likes this and even if she doesn't eat much, I am pleased she has liquid intake.Just add a drop as too much water seems to be off putting. It is trial and error finding what your cat likes!
Make a Soup
No you don't have to make your cat soup but instead mix the food with a lot of water to make the consistency a lot thinner. This was a common recommendation for older cats who couldn't chew. (We used to make this for our ferrets.)
Putting a few treats or dried food on top of the usual meal encourages eating. (We don't usually use dried food as Ginger needs to keep her water content up.) Adding a small pouch of expensive 'Gourmet' food on top also was appealing for Ginger. I hoped that by eating the top bits, she will eat some of the wet food by accident and enjoy it.
Add Cheese Seasoning
Thanks to a recent client, I found out that adding parmesan cheese to the top of the food can encourage her cat to eat. Upon reading more about it, it is the strong smell of the cheese that gets the cats attention and they are interested enough to investigate then eat. For any vegans reading this, apparently nooch can work instead. I haven't tried this but I am more likely to have this around compared to parmesan.
Correct Size Food Bowl
Recently I learnt that cats don't like to have their whiskers touch things while they are eating or drinking. It may help your cat to be more comfortable eating from a larger bowl.
Alter Feeding Times
If your cat seems hungry but it isn't normal feeding time, it is worth putting down a small bit of fresh food. If they start to eat, they may feel better and then can get back to normal.
Always put down fresh food even if the last lot hasn't been eaten. Old food is less appetising so make sure you use a clean bowl. If Ginger wasn't eating much then I would only put down half a container of food and put the rest in the fridge. (But don't forget to bring it to room temperature before feeding.) In fact, the International Cat Care recommend only giving small amounts of food is best as a lot can be off putting.
.... Remember that cats are to be worshipped and their requirements are to be met at all time.
In all seriousness, if you cat goes off their food, please consult a vet. Not eating is usually a sign of something amiss and can be fatal. The advice above will help you to get your cat on the mend along with any vet recommendations. If you have any other suggestions, please contact me!